Research, Development & Technology Strategic Plan FY 2018-2022 - U.S. Department of Transportation
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U.S. Department of Transportation Research, Development & Technology Strategic Plan FY 2018-2022 October 2020
Table of Contents ADDENDUM: i Addendum in Response to Covid-19 i 1 INTRODUCTION 1 Plan Purpose 1 Relationship to Other DOT Plans and Priorities 1 Plan Organization 4 2 DOT RESEARCH PRINCIPLES AND PROGRAMS 5 Research Principles 5 Research Program Overview 7 Research Coordination—the Role of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology (OST-R) 9 3 RESEARCH, DEVELOPMENT & TECHNOLOGY STRATEGIES 12 Strategic Goal: Safety 13 Strategic Goal: Infrastructure 18 Strategic Goal: Innovation 23 Strategic Goal: Accountability 27 4 IMPLEMENTATION 32 APPENDIX A: 33 The Role of U.S. DOT in the Transportation RD&T Ecosystem 33 APPENDIX B: 37 Technology Transfer and Evaluation Terminology 37 REFERENCES 41 ACRONYMS AND ABBREVIATIONS 42 ENDNOTES 44
i ADDENDUM | U.S. DOT RD&T STRATEGIC PLAN | FY 2018–2022 Addendum Addendum in Response to Covid-19 USDOT Strategic Plan for FY 2018–2022 Strategic Goals: The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Research, Development, and Technology (RD&T) Strategic Plan presents DOT’s transportation research • Safety: Reduce transportation- priorities and strategies to support the goals defined in the Department’s related fatalities and serious injuries Strategic Plan for FY 2018-2022. This RD&T Strategic Plan update was across the transportation system. developed as an update to the original Plan published in 2017. The coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) public health emergency emerged • Infrastructure: Invest in concurrent with the completion of this strategic plan. The full effects of Covid-19 will not be known for some time, but it is apparent that the infrastructure to ensure safety, changes to transportation and to the broader economy will influence mobility, and accessibility and to transportation research priorities over the next few years as transportation stimulate economic growth, adjusts to a post-Covid-19 era. productivity, and competitiveness The effects of Covid-19 on research project priorities are anticipated to be for American workers far-reaching. Early evidence suggests that the range of research initiatives and businesses. could include activities such as measuring and monitoring changes in transportation systems, determining best practices for protecting the • Innovation: Lead in the workforce and passengers from health risks, managing operations in development and deployment of response to disruptions such as Covid-19, understanding short- and long-term land use and travel behavior responses to Covid-19, innovative practices and technologies understanding transportation performance and costs due to responses to that improve the safety and Covid-19, and determining how transportation planning may need to adapt performance of the to integrate lessons learned from Covid-19, among others. As the Nation Nation’s transportation system. takes steps to recover from the public health emergency, research will be needed to understand the economics of Covid-19 and the use of • Accountability: Serve the Nation transportation system investments as an economic recovery tool in the short- and long-term. DOT will prioritize research capable of providing with reduced regulatory burden and decision makers with the data and tools needed to make informed greater efficiency, effectiveness, decisions on future infrastructure investments that are economically viable and accountability. and resilient, while maintaining the Department’s priority focus on safety. While these initiatives may be of value for research projects over the next few years, they will not alter the fundamental strategic goals for transportation, or alter the primary purposes of transportation research. These foundational elements of the Strategic Research Plan will remain, while the portfolio of activities may evolve as Covid-19 projects may supplement or reprioritize near-term research efforts. The Covid-19 public health emergency has introduced significant challenges for the transportation research community. The critical nature of this issue will challenge the pre-existing research priorities and traditional processes for vetting and selecting research priorities. The desire to move expeditiously will require further emphasis in timely coordination and information sharing such that risks of research duplication can still be effectively avoided. Similarly, the desire for expeditious decisions places emphasis on ability to make further timeliness improvements in the research approval process when possible, thereby assuring the value of competitive research prioritization inclusive of new criteria and goals.
ii While the Covid-19 public health emergency will be a critical research agenda issue for some time, the Principles Guiding DOT Research Investments outlined in section 2 of this Strategic Plan document will 49 USC 6503: Primary Purposes continue to govern the conduct of DOT research. of Transportation Research • Improving mobility of people The Covid-19 public health emergency represents the kind of challenge meant to be addressed by USDOT research activities; it will inevitably and goods; impact some project priorities and provide new opportunities for research • Reducing congestion; to demonstrate DOT’s goal of supporting policy, operations and investment decision-making for transportation. Researchers will need to balance the • Promoting safety; challenge of providing timely research to support gathering knowledge • Improving the durability and gained from the Covid-19 experience with the need to protect the integrity extending the life of and efficiency of research by respecting the fundamental principles guiding DOT research investments. transportation infrastructure; • Preserving the environment; and • Preserving the existing transportation system. Principles Guiding DOT Research Investments 1 Support topical DOT priorities. 2 Avoid pitting safety and mobility against each other. 3 Focus on market failures. 4 Maximize value and avoid duplication.
INTRODUCTION | U.S. DOT RD&T STRATEGIC PLAN | FY 2018–2022 1 Introduction Plan Purpose This U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Research, Development, and Technology (RD&T) Strategic Plan presents DOT’s transportation research priorities and strategies to support the goals defined in the Department’s Strategic Plan for FY 2018–2022. This RD&T Strategic Plan is an update to the original plan published in 2017.1 This plan meets the requirement set forth in section 6503 of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act for the development of a five-year strategic plan to guide future Federal transportation RD&T activities. Although the scope of the FAST Act is limited to research and development (R&D) activities, the Department includes a “technology” component in its reporting and budgeting. The technology component represents the Departmental resources and activities allocated to the deployment of R&D outputs. The Department considers this to be an important part of its role, ensuring that research results are fully leveraged in the transportation system. Thus, this plan includes the Department’s strategic approach to technology deployment and is titled the “DOT Research, Development, and Technology (RD&T) Strategic Plan. The purpose of this plan is to improve the coordination of transportation RD&T, minimize redundancy, and guide the development of Annual Modal Research Plans (AMRPs) by each of the Department’s Operating Administrations (OAs). It also describes the processes used for planning, reporting, conducting, and evaluating RD&T across the Department. The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology (OST-R) coordinated the development of this RD&T Strategic Plan ©123rf.com/arinahabich and solicited input from the Department’s OAs. Relationship to Other DOT Plans and Priorities This RD&T Strategic Plan is consistent with other relevant plans and priorities that the Department’s leadership has articulated. DOT Strategic Plan for FY 2018–2022 This RD&T Strategic Plan aligns with the Department’s Strategic Plan for FY 2018–2022, which established four strategic goals: • Safety: Reduce transportation-related fatalities and serious injuries across the transportation system. • Infrastructure: Invest in infrastructure to ensure safety, mobility, and accessibility and to stimulate economic growth, productivity, and competitiveness for American workers and businesses.
2 INTRODUCTION | U.S. DOT RD&T STRATEGIC PLAN | FY 2018–2022 • Innovation: Lead in the development and deployment of innovative practices and technologies that improve the safety and performance of the Nation’s transportation system. • Accountability: Serve the Nation with reduced regulatory burden and greater efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability. The research deployment strategies discussed in section 3 are organized with respect to these goals. FAST Act: Primary Purposes of Transportation Research The FAST Act states that the DOT five-year transportation research and development strategic plan shall describe how the Department’s transportation research and development activities meet the following six primary purposes: • Improving mobility of people and goods; • Reducing congestion; • Promoting safety; • Improving the durability and extending the life of transportation infrastructure; • Preserving the environment; and • Preserving the existing transportation system. Figure 1 indicates the key areas of alignment between the Department’s Strategic Goals and the primary purposes of the transportation RD&T program as specified in the FAST Act. FAST Act’s Primary Purposes for Transportation R&D Improving the Reducing Promoting Improving Preserving the Preserving the mobility of people congestion safety infrastructure environment transportation and goods durability system Safety USDOT’s Infrastructure Strategic Innovation Goals Accountability Figure 1. Crosswalk of the FAST Act’s Primary Purposes and DOT’s Strategic Goals DOT Research Principles The RD&T Strategic Plan is consistent with the four research principles that help guide DOT research investments. The Department’s “Principles Guiding Department of Transportation Research Investments” defined these research principles, which are described in detail in section 2 of this plan.
INTRODUCTION | U.S. DOT RD&T STRATEGIC PLAN | FY 2018–2022 3 Annual Modal Research Plans The RD&T Strategic Plan serves to guide the development of Annual Modal Research Plans (AMRPs). The FAST Act requires that each Operating Administration and Joint Program Office complete an AMRP that provides a comprehensive plan for research in the upcoming fiscal year and a detailed outlook for the following fiscal year. Annual Department R&D Funding Reports and Performance Plans/Reports This RD&T Strategic Plan also guides annual R&D funding reports and performance plans/reports required under 49 U.S.C. 6502. These requirements are described in greater detail in section 4. Figure 2 summarizes the documents that guide DOT research efforts and associated reporting, as described above. These include the goals for DOT research set forth by Congress in the FAST Act, as well as the strategic goals and research priorities set forth by this Administration. Principles Guiding DOT DOT Strategic Plan Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Research Investments FY18 – FY22 (FAST) Act Research Principles Strategic Goals Primary Purposes of and Priorities and Objectives Transportation R&D DOT RD&T Strategic Plan Research Topic Areas Research, Development and Technology Strategies Annual Modal Research Plans Annual DOT R&D Funding Reports Annual DOT R&D Performance Plans and Reports Figure 2. U.S. DOT Research Guiding Documents
4 INTRODUCTION | U.S. DOT RD&T STRATEGIC PLAN | FY 2018–2022 Plan Organization The subsequent sections of this RD&T Strategic Plan are organized as follows: • Section 2 provides an overview of the Department’s research programs and the principles and priorities that guide those programs. • Section 3 describes the RD&T strategies that the Department will use to meet its strategic goals of Safety, Infrastructure, Innovation, and Accountability. • Section 4 explains how the Department will implement this RD&T Strategic Plan over the next five years, through subsequent AMRPs and other FAST Act requirements, and how the Department’s OAs intend to evaluate the performance of their RD&T strategies. ©123rf.com/arinahabich
RESEARCH PRINCIPLES AND PROGRAMS | U.S. DOT RD&T STRATEGIC PLAN | FY 2018–2022 5 DOT Research Principles and Programs Research Principles The purpose of DOT’s research is to identify and address issues of national significance that cannot or will not be addressed by other research sponsors, including issues that involve high-risk, long-term, research and areas of specific Federal responsibility. In this role, the DOT shapes and executes an effective national research and development, deployment, and training program that helps to solve transportation challenges. To meet this purpose, the Department has defined a set of four research principles to guide its future research investments, as defined in a memorandum titled “Principles Guiding DOT Research Investments.” 1 Support topical DOT priorities. Where applicable, efforts should be made on areas of immediate importance. DOT topical research priorities are described in table 1 on the next page. Furthermore, each mode is expected to study the economic impact of reforming its respective regulations.2 2 Avoid pitting safety and mobility against each other. Both safety and mobility are central to the concept of transportation.3 Projects may focus on safety or mobility or both, or seek to resolve apparent conflicts, but should avoid pitting them against each other. 3 Focus on market failures. DOT should avoid research that can be or already is being undertaken by private actors. DOT research should address market failures, which may include system safety; multimodal improvements; interoperability; underserved populations; long-term deliverables; and unfavorable risk profiles.4 Also, DOT research can play a useful role on national security and national competitiveness.5 4 Maximize value and avoid duplication. DOT research should focus on efforts that are broadly useful instead of being overly applied.6 This may include an emphasis on basic and early-stage applied research.7 Technology transfer (T2) is also a key value-add: where possible, research should have an active commercialization or T2 component to help the research achieve its highest and best use. The performance of research investments and T2 applications should be tracked and evaluated using quantitative metrics that link directly to strategic goals and objectives, to ensure that maximum value is being maintained.8 ©123rf.com/arinahabich
6 RESEARCH PRINCIPLES AND PROGRAMS | U.S. DOT RD&T STRATEGIC PLAN | FY 2018–2022 Table 1. DOT Topical Research Priorities Regulatory Reform DOT research supports the Administration’s reform goals by helping to understand the economic impact of regulations, identifying and removing unnecessary regulatory barriers, and providing tools and data to streamline regulatory oversight and compliance activities. Permitting Reform DOT research seeks to understand the economic impact of delays to project delivery caused by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and permitting processes. DOT research also supports the development of tools and reforms designed to reduce delays and accelerate the delivery of transportation projects. Performance-Based Safety Rules DOT research supports the use of scientific methods and data-driven processes to guide safety programs, reduce prescriptive regulations, and enable innovative approaches to improving safety. Value Capture DOT research is exploring the potential impact of innovative approaches to financing transportation. Value capture is a type of public financing that recovers some or all of the value that public infrastructure generates from adjacent private landowners that benefit from the infrastructure. Asset Recycling DOT supports approaches that use existing assets to fund necessary infrastructure. DOT research will assess the potential of asset recycling, which uses proceeds from the sale or lease of existing public assets to the private sector to finance public investments in infrastructure and vehicles. Freight Mobility To improve the mobility, efficiency, and safety of freight movement, DOT research supports the development of innovative freight technologies, data, and processes. Microtransit DOT research will explore the feasibility of microtransit, a form of public transportation characterized by flexible routing and scheduling of shared-ride vehicles operating according to passenger needs. Underserved Communities DOT research is designed to improve the mobility of people with disabilities, economically disadvantaged, older persons, and to help rural and other underserved communities. DOT researches transportation needs and develops appropriate technologies and policies to meet those needs. Cybersecurity DOT is pursuing research to understand and address cybersecurity vulnerabilities related to the deployment of connected and automated transportation technologies and systems.
7 OVERVIEW Credit: Volpe Staff Art Research Program Overview The Department’s eight OAs and the Intelligent Transportation Systems Joint Program Office conduct the majority of DOT’s research activities. These agencies are listed below: • Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) • Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) • Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) • Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) • Federal Transit Administration (FTA) • Maritime Administration (MARAD) • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) • Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) • Intelligent Transportation System Joint Program Office (ITS JPO) Each OA has its own mission, statutory requirements, and funding sources. Each OA develops an AMRP that describes how it intends to address the Department’s strategic goals and priorities in the coming fiscal year. As mandated by the FAST Act, these AMRPs must also align with this RD&T Strategic Plan. Figure 3 describes the missions of the Department’s OAs and joint program offices and summarizes the range of entities with which they engage.
8 RESEARCH PRINCIPLES AND PROGRAMS | U.S. DOT RD&T STRATEGIC PLAN | FY 2018–2022 Federal Highway Federal Railroad Maritime Administration Administration Administration The Federal Highway Administration The Federal Railroad Administration’s The Maritime Administration (MARAD) (FHWA) is responsible for providing (FRA) mission is to enable the safe, promotes the use of waterborne stewardship over the construction, reliable, and efficient movement of transportation and its seamless maintenance, and preservation of the people and goods for a strong America. integration with other segments of the Nation’s highways, bridges, and tunnels. FRA is advancing the use of new transportation system, and the viability Through research and technical assis- technology in rail. of the U.S. merchant marine. tance, the FHWA supports its partners in Federal, State, and local agencies Federal Transit National Highway Traffic to accelerate innovation and improve Administration Safety Administration safety and mobility. The Federal Transit Administration The National Highway Traffic Safety (FTA) provides financial and technical Administration’s (NHTSA) mission is to Federal Motor Carrier assistance to local public transit save lives, prevent injuries, and reduce Safety Administration systems, including buses, subways, the economic costs of road traffic The Federal Motor Carrier Safety light rail, commuter rail, trolleys, and crashes through education, research, Administration’s (FMCSA) mission ferries. FTA also oversees safety safety standards, and enforcement is to reduce crashes, injuries, and measures and helps research next- activity. NHTSA carries out highway fatalities involving large trucks and generation technologies. safety programs by setting and buses. FMCSA partners with industry, enforcing safety performance standards safety advocates, and State and local Intelligent Transportation for motor vehicles and equipment, governments to keep the Nation’s roads Systems Joint Program identifying safety defects, and through safe and improve commercial motor Office the development and delivery of vehicle (CMV) safety through regulation, The Intelligent Transportation Systems effective highway safety programs for education, enforcement, research, Joint Program Office (ITS JPO) leads State and local jurisdictions. and technology. collaborative and innovative research, development, and implementation of Pipeline and Hazardous Federal Aviation intelligent transportation systems Materials Safety Administration technologies to improve safety and Administration The Federal Aviation Administration mobility for all. The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials (FAA) provides the safest and most Safety Administration (PHMSA) protects efficient aviation system in the world. people and the environment by Annually, FAA manages over 54 million advancing the safe transportation of flights, approaching a billion passengers. energy and other hazardous materials that are essential to our daily lives. To do this, PHMSA establishes national policy, sets and enforces standards, educates, and conducts research to prevent incidents. Figure 3. Missions of USDOT Operating Administrations and Joint Program Offices
RESEARCH PRINCIPLES AND PROGRAMS | U.S. DOT RD&T STRATEGIC PLAN | FY 2018–2022 9 Research Coordination—the Role of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology (OST-R) Housed in DOT’s Office of the Secretary, the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology (OST-R) plays a lead role in research coordination within the Department and with a wide range of national and international stakeholders. OST-R focuses on three priority areas: 1. Coordination, Facilitation, and Review of the Department’s RD&T activities University Transportation Centers By law,9 the Secretary is responsible for coordination, facilitation, and review of the Department’s RD&T programs and activities. OST-R (UTC) Program: executes this mandate by: The UTC program is a congressionally mandated financial assistance program that • Collecting, synthesizing, and disseminating information and provides grants to universities to conduct statistics on DOT’s RD&T activities and its products to ensure that research on critical transportation issues and all Open Science, Public Access, and other research funding and to support education activities for the next product transparency mandates are met (Open Science is generation of transportation professionals. the movement to make scientific research and its dissemination accessible to all. Increasing public access to scientific data and This program was funded through FY 2015 research findings generated by Federal agencies, or resulting from under the Moving Ahead for Progress Federally funded research, is a U.S. policy priority). in the 21st Century (MAP-21) Act, and • Reviewing modal research plans through the RD&T Review was reauthorized in the FAST Act, which and Approval Process to ensure that the Department’s research authorized the Office of the Assistant portfolio is consistent with this strategic plan and does not Secretary for Research and Technology duplicate significant aspects of other research efforts in to award $72.5 to $77.5 million in grants the Department. to UTCs annually through FY 2020. The program currently supports 35 multi-year • Providing the organizational frameworks necessary for effective university-based centers that conduct work- interaction between the Operating Administrations. force development and basic and applied • Promoting best practices for Departmental research management research, the products of which are judged and technology transfer. by peers or other subject matter experts and are made available through technology The core coordinating body is the RD&T Planning Team, composed of transfer to the transportation industry. the senior research directors from each of the Operating Administra- tions and chaired by the Director of OST-R’s Office of RD&T. The Plan- With the passage of the FAST Act, U.S. ning Team meets monthly to discuss and coordinate research activities DOT received authorization for the next underway around the Department. Operating Administration represen- round of UTC competition. The FAST Act tatives provide regular updates on their agency’s research activities to authorized the competitive selection of up to the group, facilitating research coordination and allowing potential 35 new centers to receive funding from FY opportunities for interagency collaboration to be identified. 2016 through FY 2020 to conduct research activities that address the six primary As part of OST-R, the Volpe Center also plays a key role in facili- purposes referred to in the FAST Act. tating research coordination and collaboration, partnering with the Department’s Operating Administrations on a wide range of transportation research topics.
10 RESEARCH PRINCIPLES AND PROGRAMS | U.S. DOT RD&T STRATEGIC PLAN | FY 2018–2022 2. Aligning Departmental Research with other Secretarial DOT RD&T Review and Approval Process: Office Functions DOT has established a research review and approval OST-R’s elevation to a Secretarial Office in 2014 facilitated process to ensure that the Department’s research portfolio a closer linkage between research and the Department’s is a consistent with this strategic plan and does not other Secretarial Office functions, such as policy and duplicate significant aspects of other research efforts in the budget development. OST-R’s role is to promote Department. OST-R is responsible for the review process Departmental research within the Office of the Secretary in partnership with the Office of the Assistant Secretary (OST) and act as a liaison between the Operating for Budget and Programs and the Office of the Under Administrations and the other Secretarial Offices. OST-R Secretary for Policy. The AMRP documents are used works with OST-Budget on research budget development, for the review in conjunction with project spend plan and works with OST-Policy and the staff of the Secretary information submitted by the DOT Operating Administra- and Deputy Secretary to ensure that the research portfolio tions prior to the commencement of the fiscal year. is effectively aligned with the Department’s Strategic Goals and Administration initiatives. Each Operating Administration and Joint Program Office is responsible for monitoring and evaluating the performance 3. Engaging External Stakeholders of their RD&T strategies. Biannual briefings from modal OST-R represents U.S. DOT research activities to gov- administrations to OST-R are conducted to review ernmental groups including Congress, the White House, progress made on research plan implementation. and other Federal agencies, and engages other transpor- tation research entities on behalf of the Department. This DOT has established a set of quantifiable performance role includes coordinating external requests that require metrics on research and development and technology a Department-level response, organizing and chairing transfer. Through the DOT Annual Performance Plan briefings to members of Congressional Committees, and Report, the DOT reports on these metrics, which formal reporting on Departmental research activities, and focus on the development of innovations in transporta- developing Departmental research policies in response tion through DOT research and the deployment of new to Executive Orders and legislative direction. This OST-R technologies and innovative practices to support the function supplements the extensive engagement activities performance of the transportation system. conducted by each of the Operating Administrations. Such Key innovation performance metrics include the following: activities allow the Nation’s transportation research enterprise to move forward coherently and economically. • Research Laboratory Utilization Rates • Research Outcomes Made Publicly Available in Research Hub • Technical Reports Made Publicly Available in the National Transportation Library • Technologies Toward Implementation (Pilots and Demonstrations) • Success Stories (Evidence of Societal Benefits)
RESEARCH PRINCIPLES AND PROGRAMS | U.S. DOT RD&T STRATEGIC PLAN | FY 2018–2022 11 Duplication in Research: More than $1 billion of public money is spent on Federally funded transportation research by U.S. DOT every year. The FAST Act requires the Secretary of Transportation to certify each year that there is no duplication of research directed, commissioned, or conducted by DOT except to the extent that the research: 1) Is required by an Act of Congress; 2) Is part of a contract funded before enactment of the FAST Act; 3) Updates previously commissioned research; or 4) Is necessary according to the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology who must provide a certification to that effect with a justification. Some duplication may be needed to validate research results. Duplication can corroborate a new result or reaffirm a prior finding. For example, several studies might be needed to find the optimal type of asphalt to reduce potholes under different weather conditions, or the optimal levels of tolls to keep traffic flowing. However, if validation is the purpose of a proposed research, it should be stated explicitly during early scoping efforts and in all documentation. Furthermore, duplication may be less than complete, meaning that similar research projects may include some but not all the same elements. Partial duplication of research may not be wasteful when it is conducted in different contexts and likely to produce differentiated results with varying applications. It is important for people conducting similar research to be aware of what others are doing so they can adapt their research to complement one another and draw on one another’s data, methods, or findings. Temporal and spatial aspects can also provide a legitimate need for work that initially appears duplicative; the same study conducted at a different time or in a different loca- tion can often yield new and valuable findings. A key consideration is whether both the research sponsor and the research performer are fully aware of any duplicative aspects of a proposed study. If the necessary awareness exists, the likelihood of redundant research activity is eliminated. With this in mind, OST-R’s role in preventing wasteful duplication is to: 1) Facilitate the widest possible awareness and coordination of research among (i) the different recipients of research funding under DOT’s auspices (intramural research), (ii) DOT funded researchers and others through- out the Government, the States, and major independent research organizations (extramural research); and 2) Identify similar research projects and activities, determine whether they should continue for purposes of validation or reaffirmation, be terminated for redundancy, or whether they can be modified, integrated, or coordinated to produce incremental net benefits. The key evaluation criterion for funding research is whether it has the potential to add more value than it costs.
12 RD&T STRATEGIES | U.S. DOT RD&T STRATEGIC PLAN | FY 2018–2022 Research, Development & Technology Strategies This Strategic Plan describes the DOT’s RD&T objectives and strategies by DOT strategic goal and research topic area. As indicated in figure 4, the 12 research topic areas are aligned with the four DOT strategic goals and represent common research focus areas and opportunities for future cross-modal coordination for the Department. These research topic areas and associated RD&T objectives and strategies are described in greater detail below. USDOT’s Strategic Goals and Related Research Topic Areas Safety Infrastructure Innovation Accountability Automation: State of Good Repair: Emerging/Enabling Technology Transfer/ Enable the safe inte- Maintain transportation Technologies: Deployment: gration of automated assets in a state of good Advance the development Facilitate the deployment vehicles and unmanned repair, ensure resilience of emerging/enabling and adoption of DOT aircraft systems into the to natural and man-made practices and technologies. research products into the transportation system. threats, and optimize transportation system. material cost and durability. Mobility Innovation: Systemic Safety Use innovative business Evaluation/Performance Approach: Environmental Stewardship: models, partnerships, and Measurement: Use systemic, Preserve the environ- private-sector solutions to Monitor and evaluate the performance- ment, ensure the safety expand mobility options for contribution of research, based approaches to and cost-effectiveness of travelers, including including development, and ensuring transportation alternative transportation underserved communities technology activities system safety. energy sources, and ensure such as people with toward the achievement the safe transportation of disabilities, economically of DOT strategic goals Human Factors: hazardous materials. disadvantaged, older and objectives. persons, and rural residents. Ensure the integration of human factors into the Economic Competitiveness: Data: design of the Stimulate economic growth, Cybersecurity: Ensure access to transportation system. productivity, and Develop approaches high-quality data to competitiveness through for maintaining the support data-driven transportation cybersecurity of the technologies, operations, infrastructure investments. transportation system. and decision-making. Figure 4. DOT’s Strategic Goals and Related Research Topic Areas
RD&T STRATEGIES | U.S. DOT RD&T STRATEGIC PLAN | FY 2018–2022 13 DOT has established working groups within each of these 12 topical research areas. Each work- ing group is assigned to an OA or OST office and chaired by a representative from that OA/office. Working group membership is composed of representatives from each OA and OST office working within that topical research area, with membership selections based on recognized expertise within the topic area and/or broad awareness of research activities within the topic area. The groups have been designed to raise awareness of research activities underway across DOT, and across the wider transportation research field outside DOT, in order to eliminate duplicative research efforts and to identify cross-modal research needs for future funding consideration. This “bottom up” approach to cross-modal research coordination complements the “top down” approach led by OST-R through the new DOT RD&T Research Review and Approval Process. Strategic Goal: Safety Safety remains a major challenge for our Nation’s transportation system, and it is DOT’s top priority. Across all modes of transportation, nearly 40,000 lives were lost in 2018. The vast majority of transportation-related fatalities occurred on our Nation’s roadways. In 2018, 36,560 people died in motor vehicle crashes, a decrease of almost 2.4 percent from 2017.10 Increasing seat belt use and improved vehicle safety technology have contributed to a significant reduction in traffic fatality rates over the past 40 years; however, motor vehicle crashes remain one of the leading causes of death for Americans. Dangerous actions such as speeding, distracted driving, and driving under the influ- ence are still putting many Americans at risk. Rural vehicle fatality rates are 2 times higher than in urban areas, while pedestrian and cyclist deaths have increased as a proportion of traffic fatalities in recent years.11 Though fatalities in other modes are less common, safety risks persist—particularly in areas such as general aviation, highway-rail grade crossings, and railway trespassing. Advances in technology, engineering, and human factors research are providing new insights into how DOT can address transportation safety issues. Rapidly advancing connected and automated vehicle technologies, for example, have the potential to dramatically reduce the number of crashes with fatalities or serious injuries. In aviation, runway safety improvements and technology have saved countless lives by reducing the risk and consequences of runway incursions and excursions. In addition, the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) is improving the safety of aviation by digitizing communication and navigation systems of the national airspace. The deployment of positive train control is helping to improve the safety of rail transportation. In addition, across all modes, improvements in safety data sources and analysis tools support better safety management processes. Research Topic Area: Automation The integration of automation technologies across our transportation system has the potential to improve safety dramatically by reducing crashes caused by human choice or error. In recent years, the private sector has invested heavily in advancing the development of commercial automation technol- ogy. The Department’s targeted research in this area aims to develop policies and other guidance and safety assessment methods to assure the safety of automation and accelerate its integration into the transportation system. Departmental research evaluates the safety and performance of automated vehicles to assess their impacts on users, infrastructure, congestion, and the environment. Due to its significant potential to improve safety, automation research supports the Department’s safety goal while also contributing to achievement of the Department’s innovation goal.
14 RD&T STRATEGIES | U.S. DOT RD&T STRATEGIC PLAN | FY 2018–2022 ©istockphoto/692819426 Research objectives supporting the Automation cross-modal topic area are as follows: • Automated Driving Systems: Conduct research to support the safe deployment of automated driving systems. > Assess regulatory barriers to the safe and efficient development, testing, and deployment of automated vehicles. > Develop approaches to testing and certifying the safety of automated vehicles. Ensuring American Leadership in Automated Vehicle > Support field tests, pilots, and demonstrations of automated Technologies: Automated Vehicles 4.0 vehicles to understand how they perform in a mixed-road The White House and the U.S. Department user environment. of Transportation developed AV 4.0, building > Test and evaluate the safety of automated commercial upon previous versions of Federal AV guidance, motor vehicles (CMVs) and truck platoons and support to coordinate efforts across the Federal their deployment. government and provide high-level guidance > Identify and evaluate infrastructure design and operational to Federal agencies, innovators, and the public practices that address the needs of automated vehicles while ensuring the safety of all road users. on the U.S. posture toward AVs. AV 4.0 establishes Federal principles for the > Conduct research into the safe packaging, carriage, and transport of hazardous materials by automated vehicles. development and integration of automated vehicles, consisting of three core focus areas: prioritize safety and security, promote innovation, and ensure a consistent regulatory approach.
RD&T STRATEGIES | U.S. DOT RD&T STRATEGIC PLAN | FY 2018–2022 15 • Multimodal Applications of Automation Technologies: Foster innovation and address barriers to deployment of automation Strategic Transit Automation Research technologies in rail, transit, and marine transportation. (STAR) Plan > Identify and address barriers to the development and deployment The Strategic Transit Automation Research of automated bus transit. Plan, published in 2018, outlines an FTA research agenda for transit bus automation > Foster innovation, technology, automation, and autonomous over five years. The plan provides a frame- operations in the maritime industry. work for the transit industry to pursue > Develop technologies that will leverage positive train control (PTC) transit bus automation in a safe, efficient, system functionality to enable automated train operation. and economically sound manner. Built on a foundation of stakeholder engagement, • Unmanned Aerial Systems: Advance the safe integration of use case analysis, and an extensive liter- unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) into the National Airspace ature review, the plan defines activities in System (NAS). the areas of Enabling Research, Integrated > Support the development of regulations, policies, procedures, Demonstrations, and Strategic Partner- guidance, and standards for UAS operations. ships. The plan’s continued emphasis on stakeholder engagement, knowledge > Develop UAS detection and mitigation technologies. transfer, and technical assistance ensures > Explore applications of UAS to improve the efficiency and effective- that complementary work being done by ness of the construction, operation, and maintenance of infrastructure. the public sector, the private sector, and academia is effectively communicated. > Explore the potential of UAS to improve rail worker safety in public transit. Research Topic Area: Systemic Safety Approach Research and data help decision makers understand the systemic causes of transportation safety challenges and prioritize investments. Systemic and performance-based approaches to safety help ensure efficient and timely detection of critical safety hazards. However, these approaches will not work without reliable data, effective analytical tools, and a broad understanding of risk management practices. DOT research investments look to make improvements in these areas and provide a foundation for systemic, performance-based approaches to improving safety. ©istockphoto/692832436
16 RD&T STRATEGIES | U.S. DOT RD&T STRATEGIC PLAN | FY 2018–2022 Research objectives supporting the Systemic Safety Approach Systemic Safety Approach: Safety Data Initiative cross-modal topic area are as follows: The Department’s Safety Data Initiative • Performance-Based Regulatory Standards and Safety seeks to develop new and integrated data Management Systems: Support the use of safety management sources, analysis, and visualization tech- systems and performance-based safety standards, policies, niques to enhance our understanding of and programs. crash risk and our ability to mitigate it. The > Develop safety data collection methods, data integration and initiative seeks to build DOT’s capacity to analysis techniques, and advance safety data and risk analysis techniques to support risk-based decision-making capabilities. translate the successes of predictive data analytics tools used by private industry and > Develop the scientific basis for performance-based regulations. universities to identify systemic factors contributing to serious crashes. The initiative > Research potential voluntary standards to increase safety culture and improve safety in public transit systems. has three goals: 1) to make data analysis and insights accessible to policy makers through > Conduct research to support potential regulatory reform and relief. clear, compelling data visualizations; 2) to integrate existing DOT databases and new Research Topic Area: Human Factors private-sector data sources to answer safety Human choice or error causes or contributes to the majority of questions; and 3) to use advanced analytic all transportation safety incidents.12 DOT human factors research techniques to identify risk patterns and investigates sources of these human errors, such as fatigue, impair- develop insights that anticipate and mitigate ment, operator performance, and fitness for duty. In an era of rapidly evolving transportation technologies, DOT research on human fac- safety risk to reduce injuries and fatalities. tors such as distraction and interaction with technology, as well as potential misunderstanding or overestimation of the capabilities of new technologies, has also grown in importance. Human factors are a key component of DOT’s automation research. Research objectives supporting the Human Factors cross-modal topic area are as follows: • Accelerate Technology Integration: Conduct human factors research to accelerate the integration of new technologies. > Conduct human factors research in areas including advanced vision systems and sensor-based technologies, avionics and new technologies, physiological limitations, risk mitigation, and weather systems and displays. > Study human factors such as operator impairment, team coordination, and the safe integration of people with technology. > Assess how people respond to changes in roadway environments using data from driving simulators, field research vehicles, sign laboratories, test tracks, and naturalistic studies. > Conduct research to support the design of effective human-machine interfaces and system design and operating procedures, and associated training, guidelines, rules, and standards.
RD&T STRATEGIES | U.S. DOT RD&T STRATEGIC PLAN | FY 2018–2022 17 • Human Factors and Safety: Study human factors in transportation safety. Human Factors: Trucking Fatigue Meter > Conduct research on strategies for influencing operator behavior to inform national safety programs, provide FMCSA has developed the Trucking Fatigue Meter, a guidance to State and community safety officials, and technology that uses existing streams of trucking data develop training and education programs. to assess driver fatigue. The tool provides objective > Study the effects of operator fatigue and provide quantitative feedback to truck drivers, dispatchers, educational materials to drivers to learn about how and safety managers about fatigue stressors common fatigue affects the safe operation of CMVs. in commercial motor vehicle operations (e.g., chronic > Conduct pilot trials and studies to improve safety and sleep deprivation, extended duty hours, and night organizational culture in the transportation industry. work). The tool gives safety managers an assessment > Identify performance measures to support the analysis of overall fatigue of drivers in their fleet. It also of the safety impacts of interactions with advanced provides drivers with guidance on optimal times to automation. Examples include driver assistance and drive, take a break, and sleep. driving automation systems, including the information needs of persons with disabilities as well as pilot control stations for unmanned aircraft systems. Human Factors: Intermodal Collaboration on Human Factors Research The Department’s OAs coordinate human factors research through the DOT Human Factors Coordinating Committee, which serves as a collaborative, multimodal team to address crosscutting human factors issues in transportation. There are many other examples of intermodal coordination and collaboration on human factors research. FMCSA, NHTSA, and FHWA are working together to conduct a systematic review of crash factors and to develop potential crash countermea- sures. Researchers will examine data from a wide range of sources to gain a better understanding of driver behaviors that precipitate a crash, such as distraction and fatigue. NHTSA, FHWA, and ITS JPO are coordinating on human factors studies aimed at improving our understanding of safe operations of connected and automated vehicles. FRA is conducting research that seeks to incorporate lessons learned from FAA’s Aviation Safety Information Analysis and Sharing system. This research will promote the exchange of information to support continuous improvements to safety.
18 RD&T STRATEGIES | U.S. DOT RD&T STRATEGIC PLAN | FY 2018–2022 Strategic Goal: Infrastructure Public agencies face major challenges maintaining infrastructure in a state of good repair, ensuring the resilience of infrastructure to disruptions caused by disasters and extreme weather, and making targeted investments to support economic competitiveness and growth. This is a top priority for the Administration, as noted in Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Memo M-17-30, detailing Federal R&D priorities for FY19.13 Insufficient and inefficient investments have led to increased congestion, deteriorating conditions, and growing maintenance backlogs.14 Slow and inefficient environmental review and permitting processes make the delivery of infrastructure projects more costly, unpredictable, and time-consuming. Departmental research supports technologies and policies that can help transportation agencies maximize the effectiveness of transportation investments to reduce congestion, improve the state of good repair, and increase the resilience of our transportation system. Research Topic Area: State of Good Repair The Department supports research that aims to accelerate adoption of innovative materials, structures, designs, and construction methods for infrastruc- ture. The Department also researches transportation asset management and maintenance to help extend the life of assets. This research helps to reduce maintenance costs, accelerate construc- tion, and improve conditions. By extend- ing the life of infrastructure and reducing the amount of time assets are under construction and repair, such research can also reduce delays and associated safety hazards. Research objectives supporting the State of Good Repair cross-modal topic area are Photo © 123rf.com as follows: • Advanced Materials, Designs, and Technologies: Support the development and application of advanced materials, designs, and technologies to improve durability, extend the life, and reduce the maintenance needs of infrastructure. > Develop and evaluate advanced materials that enable new infrastructure designs, improve structural resilience, and accelerate construction and repair. • Risk-Based Asset Management: Advance the understanding of infrastructure performance and research ways to improve risk-based asset management and maintenance practices to extend the life of infrastructure. > Help decision makers assess vulnerabilities and integrate resiliency considerations into transportation planning, asset management, project development, and design processes. > Assess future levels of exposure of infrastructure to extreme weather events, including changes in precipitation patterns, extreme temperatures, and cyclonic storm surges and waves.
RD&T STRATEGIES | U.S. DOT RD&T STRATEGIC PLAN | FY 2018–2022 19 > Assess the efficacy of “health” monitoring techniques of transit assets using advanced technol- ogies to include sensors and the use of innovative construction techniques and new materials such as nanoparticles, recycled polymers, and composites. • Infrastructure System Resilience: Infrastructure across the country faces risks associated with natural disasters, extreme weather, and security risk events. Addressing the risk of damage and disruption caused by such events is essential in ensuring the continued integrity of our transportation system. > Develop approaches for assessing the vulnerability of infrastructure State of Good Repair: FRA Track and transportation systems. Autonomous Inspection Program > Improve estimations of current and future risks to transportation Decreasing derailments can significantly systems posed by exposure to extreme weather events. improve freight mobility and improve the costs of service. The industry cur- > Assess current strategies and tools to support resilience analysis rently uses frequent track inspections and mitigation and encourage the adoption of effective approaches as a method of decreasing derailments, across modes. but track inspections require significant • Advanced Inspection Tools: Develop innovative inspection technol- personnel time and can disrupt train ogies that use advances in sensor systems, automation technologies, operations. The FRA’s autonomous track wireless communications technologies, and robotics including UAS to inspection program works to improve the make inspection and oversight processes safer and more efficient. quality and coverage of inspections using > Improve the use of advanced sensor systems, analytical automation. This program decreases the techniques, and data visualization techniques to support early amount of track inspection time by using identification of structural deficiencies and infrastructure revenue-service trains as the inspection deterioration that may yield relatively low-cost solutions. vehicles and advanced analytics to process data to determine safety risk. This decreases the time and cost Research Topic Area: Environmental Stewardship associated with the inspection process Through environmental research, the Department seeks to develop and increases safety through improved innovative approaches to improve the sustainability and resilience of capability to detect defects and prioritize transportation infrastructure and expedite the environmental review track repair. process. The Department aims to develop approaches that support evidence-based decision-making regarding the environmental impacts of projects. Departmental research also looks to accelerate technology maturation and deployment, integrate resilience into asset management practices, improve the energy efficiency of vehicles, and advance the use of alternative fuels in transportation. Research objectives supporting the Environmental Stewardship cross-modal topic area are as follows: • Accelerated Project Delivery: Conduct research that supports environmental analysis, strengthens environmental decision-making, and accelerates the environmental review and permitting of transportation projects. > Expedite project delivery and reduce regulatory costs by improving environmental review and permitting processes. > Develop and refine analytical tools that can help decision makers understand the impacts of transportation decisions on air quality, noise, and travel demand to support performance-based decision-making and efficient project delivery while maintaining a healthy environment.
20 RD&T STRATEGIES | U.S. DOT RD&T STRATEGIC PLAN | FY 2018–2022 • Alternative Fuels and Fuel Efficiency: Conduct research to support the use of alternative fuels and the development of fuel-efficient and electric engines. > Develop methods to safely use liquefied natural gas (LNG) as a fuel for locomotives and to safely transport LNG as a commodity in regular freight service. > Test, evaluate, and demonstrate the viability of alternative fuels and technologies in shipping. > Support the development and adoption of alternative fuel passenger vehicles, highway infrastructure and corridors. > Support the development and adoption of more fuel-efficient aircraft engines, alternative jet fuels, and an unleaded replacement for the gasoline used in general aviation. > Develop and demonstrate the viability of alternative fuels and technologies in shipping. > Support the development and adoption of low- and zero-emissions buses, facilities, and related charging and maintenance technologies to support their evaluation, certification, and eventual adoption by the transit industry. > Evaluate the feasibility and implications of building inductive charging capability into highway infrastructure. > Support research and development of standards and inspection procedures to address safe operation and maintenance of alternative ©istockphoto/871180138 fuel commercial vehicles. > Reduce energy use of transit buses, reduce harmful emissions, and increase energy efficiency. • Hazardous Materials Safety: Conduct research to improve the safety of hazardous materials transportation. > Support hazardous materials research that identifies emerging risks, develops technologies, strengthens industry consensus standards, and promotes the use of new lessons learned by decision makers. > Identify, test, and document the performance of new materials that will improve the thermal and mechanical performance of bulk packaging containing hazardous materials, including rail- cars, road trailers, tanks, and other bulk packages. Environmental Stewardship: Reducing the Environmental Impacts of Aviation FAA’s NextGen Environmental Research project looks to reduce the environmental impacts of aviation by developing tools and data to inform the development of engine and airframe technologies that reduce aircraft noise, fuel use, and emissions. This project is being conducted in partnership with industry through the Continuous Lower Energy, Emissions and Noise (CLEEN) program. With the support of the CLEEN program, the aviation industry can expedite the integration of technologies that reduce noise, emissions, and fuel use in current and future aircraft. CLEEN helps accelerate technologies through a crucial phase in their maturation, culminating in full-scale ground and flight test demonstrations and showing technology readiness for product implementation.
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